Whether you're trying to lose weight or just want to eat healthier, you may be confused by news you're hearing about carbohydrates. With so much attention focused on protein diets, there's been a consumer backlash against carbohydrates. As a result, many people misunderstand role that carbohydrates play in a healthy diet.
Carbohydrates aren't all good or all bad. Some kinds promote health while others, when eaten often and in large quantities, may increase risk for diabetes and coronary heart disease.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates come from a wide array of foods - bread, fruit, vegetables, rice, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti, corn, and cherry pie. They also come in a variety of forms. The most common and abundant ones are sugars, fibers, and starches. The basic building blocks of all carbohydrates are sugar molecules.
The digestive system handles all carbohydrates in much same way - it breaks them down (or tries to break them down) into single sugar molecules, since only these are small enough to absorb into bloodstream. It also converts most digestible carbohydrates into glucose (also known as blood sugar), because cells are designed to use this as a universal energy source. This is why carbohydrates can make us feel energetic. Carbohydrates fuel our body. Your body stores glucose reserves in muscles in form of glycogen ready to be used when we exert ourselves.
Carbohydrates are highest octane - most desirable fuel source for your body's energy requirements. If you don't have an adequate source of carbohydrate your body may scavenge from dietary protein and fat to supply glucose. The problem is when you've depleted your stores of glycogen (stored glucose in muscle and lean tissue) your body turns to burning muscles or organs (lean muscle tissue) and dietary protein or fat to provide blood glucose to supply energy needs. When this happens, your basal metabolic rate drops because you have less lean muscle tissue burning calories and your body thinks its starving and cuts back on energy requirements.
So you should continue to eat carbohydrates discriminately selecting those which have greatest health benefits.
The carbohydrates you consume should come from carbohydrate-rich foods that are close to form that occurs in nature. The closer carbohydrate food is as Mother Nature intended, greater density of other vital nutrients. If you are looking for health-enhancing sources of carbohydrates you should choose from: